Notebook: Marist Up Next for State

After a comback win over Drexel in the NIT opener, NC State (19-15) will host Marist (25-8) tonight in the second round of the 2007 National Invitation Tournament. Tip-off is set for 9:30 pm, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

  • NC State has never played a game versus Marist.
  • NC State's five starters have averaged in double figures throughout the season. If the averages continued to hold by season's end, it will mark the first time since 1977-78 that five players have averaged double figures for NC State.
  • Ben McCauley is shooting .593 from the field, the second-best mark in the ACC and a mark that would be the best for a Wolfpack player since 1992 if the season ended today.
  • All five Wolfpack players were named to either the first or second All-ACC Tournament teams.
  • Brandon Costner scored 90 points in the 2007 ACC Tournament, the best mark ever for a Pack player in the history of the event.
  • Senior Engin Atsür is the 39th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark. He now has 1,155 points for his career - the 11th-best mark among current ACC players.

    The Wolfpack is making its 11th appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, its first since 2000. NC State posts an all-time record of 14-11 in the event following Tuesday night's win at Drexel. The Wolfpack has made just one appearance in the NIT finals, losing to Texas in 1978. In 2000, State advanced to the semifinals in New York, losing to Wake Forest in the first game and then to Penn State in the consolation round. In 1951, NC State actually played in the NIT AND the NCAA Tournament in the same year. Following a win in the Southern Conference Tournament, the Pack traveled to New York, where it lost to Seton Hall in the NIT, then played in the NCAA Tournament back in Raleigh, defeating Villanova and then losing to Illinois and St. John's.

    The NIT was founded in 1938 and was originally made up of six teams. In 1941, the field expanded to eight and grew to six in 1969. All rounds of the tournament were played in Madison Square Garden until 1977, when the first rounds began to be played on campus, with the final four teams only playing in New York. In 1979, the field was expanded to 24 teams, upped to 32 in 1980 and 40 teams in 2002. In 2005, the NCAA took over the administration of the NIT and last season, narrowed the field to 32 teams.

    NC State's draw in the NIT certainly didn't look good on paper. Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack - a squad which plays just seven players regularly - had just landed in Raleigh on Sunday night after playing four games in four days, when the news came that the squad would have to leave the following day for a Tuesday night game at Drexel - a team that many said should have been in the NCAA's. But now, after playing five games in six days (a first in Wolfpack history), NC State looking forward to a couple of days rest and a home game against Marist. The Pack posted a 4-1 record in that six-day time span, knocking off three higher seeds in the ACC Tournament and one higher seed in the NIT.

    The Wolfpack will return to the "Big Barn" - Reynolds Coliseum - for its second round NIT game against Marist. The Wolfpack's usual home court, the RBC Center, is the host of this weekend's NCAA Tournament 1st and 2nd rounds for women, so the Pack will play at the site where Sidney Lowe saw action. The venerable Reynolds Coliseum served as the home of the Wolfpack from 1949-99 and was the site of 766 NC State basketball games, three Southern Conference Tournaments, 13 ACC Tournaments, eight NCAA regionals and varous NIT appearances. The Wolfpack has returned to Reynolds every December for the past five years for an annual "Heritage Game." NC State has posted a 5-0 in that event. The Wolfpack posted an overall record of 589-177 (.769) in the 50-year history of Reynolds Coliseum.

    Sidney Lowe played in 55 of those 766 games, as the Wolfpack posted a 41-14 record in the games he played in Reynolds.

    NC State has now advanced to postseason play each of the past six years and 10 of the last 11 years. In all, the Wolfpack has made 31 postseason appearances, advancing to the NCAA Tournament 20 times and to the NIT 11 times. The Wolfpack actually appeared in both the NCAA and NIT in 1951. Back then, the NCAA allowed its participants to play in the NIT as well. That year, Everett Case's squad won the Southern Conference Tournament and then was one of four seeded teams in that year's NIT (there were 12 teams total that season). NC State lost in the first round in New York to Seton Hall, then came back to Raleigh to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Pack won its first game against Villanova, then lost to Illinois and then St. John's in the NCAA consolation.

    NC State has certainly made it interesting in the last several games. In three of the Wolfpack last five games (all three of which were NC State victories), Sidney Lowe's squad has come from behind to win. For the season, NC State has won six games while trailing at the half.

    Against Duke in the first-round of the ACC Tournament, the Pack was down as many as nine in the first half and trailed by five at the break, but came back to win by five. In the quarterfinals versus Virginia, NC State trailed by 14 at halftime, but came back to win by eight. That marked the second-largest halftime deficit overcome to gain victory in an ACC Tournament game. In the semifinals versus Virginia Tech, NC State was up six at the half, but the Hokies actually came back to tie the score twice in the second period before the Pack went on to win, 72-64. NC State trailed by eight at halftime of the ACC title game against North Carolina, but then fell behind as much 16 before pulling within a single point with just five minutes remaining. NC State continued the come-from-behind trend at Drexel, The Dragons led by 11 early in the contest and boasted a two-point (28-26) halftime lead. With 5:35 remaining in the game, NC State trailed by five, but came back to win by seven.

    NC State has won six of the 18 games in which it has trailed at the halftime, with three of those wins coming in the last five games.

    Redshirt freshman forward Brandon Costner has re-written the record books for Wolfpack rookies. A member of the 2007 ACC All-Rookie team and a unanimous selection to the All-ACC Tournament first-team, Costner has scored 573 points thus far in 2007. That mark shattered previous Wolfpack freshman scoring record of 410, that was set by Hawkeye Whitney 30 years ago.

    Somebody forgot to tell senior point guard Engin Atsür that he was supposed to be tired. That he had a bad hamstring. That there was no way he should be able to be playing his fifth game in six days. After playing an unbelieveable 137 minutes in the Pack's four-day run in Tampa, Atsür, who had reaggravated his hamstring on Saturday, was able to come back on Tuesday and play 36 minutes. After re-pulling the hammie in the semifinal game of the ACC Tournament on Saturday, Atsür was limited offensively, managing just three points in each game. But those limitations were lifted at Drexel on Tuesday night. The tough-minded senior came out and played 36 minutes, leading the Pack in scoring with 18 points, shootin 5-9 from the field and 7-8 from the charity stripe.

    Sophomore center Ben McCauley posted his second double-double in six days, the fifth of his season and career, in Tuesday night's win at Drexel. McCauley scored 16 points and pulled down a dozen rebounds in the contest. Last Thursday, McCauley posted a double-double in the win over Duke in the ACC Tournament , scoring 15 points and first double-double for a Wolfpack player in the ACC Tournament since Julius Hodge had 17 pts and a dozen rebounds against Duke in the 2003 finals. MCauley ranks ninth in the ACC in rebounding with 6.6 per game, ninth in offensive boards at 2.42. The center was a rebounding machine in the first outing against Maryland on Feb. 14, setting a new career high with 13 caroms. Most of McCauley's work was done on the offensive end, as he pulled down eight offensive boards - the ninth-highest total in a single game in school history. For the game, McCauley helped NC State to 16 offensive rebounds, the second- highest total of the season.

    Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack made an historic run to reach the finals of the 2007 ACC Tournament. The 10th-seeded Wolfpack knocked off the seven seed, Duke in the first round, sent second-seeded Virginia packing in the quarterfinals, and then followed that with a win over No. 3 seed Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Pack, exhausted from playing four games in four days, fell to top-seeded North Carolina in the title game, 80-89. Only one other time in the history of the ACC Tournament, had a team started in the play-in game/first round and advanced to the finals (that team was the 1997 Wolfpack).

    It's been a pretty simple formula for the Wolfpack all season. In the Wolfpack's 19 wins this season, the team has shot .536 from the field (516-963). In the 15 losses, that mark slips to .443 (349-788). Those marks are even more striking in the Wolfpack's games against ACC opponents. In its eight league victories (five in the regular season, three in tournament), NC State shot a blazing .574 on field goals (220-383), but stands at just .429 (269-627) in its 11 league losses. NC State has shot so well in its wins this season that it ranks second in the league in shooting percentage at .494 heading into the second round of the NIT. In the ACC Tournament, NC State shot .555 in the four games.

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